Carolina Beach Council To Consider Short-term Rental Registration Fee

Carolina Beach Council To Consider Short-term Rental Registration Fee

Carolina Beach Council To Consider Short-term Rental Registration Fee Featured

By / Local News / Wednesday, 03 June 2020 17:30

By WILLARD KILLOUGH III
Managing Editor

CAROLINA BEACH - The Carolina Beach Town Council will hold a public hearing at their June 9th meeting at 6:30pm to consider a proposal to implement a $25 registration fee for short-term rental properties as a way to track payment of county Room Occupancy Taxes and to better communicate with the owners of those rentals in times such as COVID-19 when the Town mandated such rentals close operations.

According to Gloria Abbotts with the Town's Planning Department, "At the January budget retreat Town Council directed staff to create a short-term rental zoning permit. Based on Room Occupancy Tax data received from New Hanover County, there are 1,007 active Short-Term Rentals (STRs) in Carolina Beach. New Hanover County utilizes a third-party software paid for by the TDA to track short-term rentals. The county assigns each STR a Room Occupancy Tax account number."

She explained, "The purpose of this text amendment is to provide staff with the means to easily identify, track, and determine which structures should be paying occupancy taxes and make sure property owners are aware of regulations related to the operation of an STR in Carolina Beach. The Town will track short-term rentals using a registration program. As a part of this program, property owners must complete a registration form and provide their ROT account number to ensure that their STR is registered with NHC and paying room occupancy taxes. The proposed annual application fee is $25 per short-term rental property. Property owners shall register by July 1 of each year."

Abbotts explained in a memo to Council, the new ordinance related to short-term rentals (STR's) is not developing additional regulations which are not already found elsewhere in Carolina Beach ordinances. The amendment adds STRs as a permissible use and highlights the relevant regulations short-term rentals should be following. There are no current allowances for nor prohibitions against short-term rentals in the ordinance and the town does not regulate properties differently based on the duration of lease or rental.

She explained, "The proposed ordinance is in accordance with provisions of the North Carolina General Statutes. The proposed ordinance is also consistent with the goals and objectives of the adopted land use plan, as no specific policies pertain to the regulation of short-term rentals, but the amendment aligns with the overall goals of the land use plan and the interest of Town Council and the public."

Short term accommodations such as hotels, motels, bed and breakfasts  must pay a room occupancy tax. Those taxes go to fund beach nourishment projects as well as tourism related expenditures and promotion. The Room Occupancy Tax Rate for Kure Beach is 6% and the combined State and County Sales Tax Rate is 7% for a total of 13% on a vacationer's bill. For example, a portion of the ROT goes toward funding beach nourishment projects which in turn helps maintain wide beaches for both locals and tourists to enjoy. But not just for the recreational aspect. More importantly, to maintain a buffer from the power of the Atlantic Ocean which can ultimately threaten oceanfront property values of both residential and commercial ventures such as hotels, motels and vacation rental homes.

The ROT is also used to fund a portion of the annual budget for the local municipal life guard programs to protect lives of people who enjoy the beach. It's an added level of safety for both locals and visitors.

There is an economic revenue generating engine built into the ROT tax legislation.

A portion of the revenues generated by the ROT are used to promote the Town as a tourism destination and another portion is used to cover tourism related expenditures like festivals and other events that put more heads on beds in rental accommodations. That part of the legislation serves to fund activities that help increase the number of people that visit the area and in turn increases ROT revenues.

Not collecting the tax is a violation of law. If you're one of those owners not collecting that tax, you're not doing your part to help improve the community and the very tourism based economy your rely on to make your property attractive to vacationers.

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